Every once in a while you hear a new record by an artist that you've not heard before and it just sends shivers down your spine. Indra Rios-Moore is the newest addition to this select group.
Indra, named by her mother after the Hindu warrior deity of the sky and the rain, was born to a Puerto Rican social worker, Elizabeth, and an African-American-Syrian jazz bassist, Donald Moore (his credits include, the New York Contemporary Five, Archie Shepp, Elvin Jones, Sonny Rollins, and Jackie McLean). Growing up in a tough neighborhood, Indra spent her formative years in an imaginary world with her mother's extensive record collection of jazz, soul, and rock music for company.
13 year old Indra won a scholarship at Mannes College of Music where she developed her soprano voice and during the same year she attended the Village Harmony, summer camp in Northern Vermont. Her teenage years were spent in a musical parallel existence; one full of classical arias and vocalization practice and the other filled with traditional American folks tunes and old Balkan folk songs in the woods of Vermont.
While working as a waitress in a Brooklyn wine bar, she met Benjamin Traerup, a Danish jazz saxophonist; three weeks later they were living together and one year after that they were married and living in Denmark. Indra, her husband and his friend, bassist, Thomas Sejthen formed a trio in 2007 that soon built a strong following in Denmark and Scandinavia.
No sooner had Indra won the Danish Music Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album in 2012 for ‘In Between’ her second album than her thoughts turned to making a follow up.
Indra Rios-Moore’s 2015 Impulse! debut, “Heartland”, received rave reviews throughout Europe and was named one of the best jazz albums of the year by London’s Sunday Times and The London Telegraph. Her single “Little Black Train” was a Nr. 1 on the iTunes jazz charts in France, Germany and Denmark. Telerama of France declared that hers was the “celestial voice of jazz”. Now she returns with her latest album, Carry My Heart.
Carry My Heart was directly inspired by an intimate interaction Indra had with a kind stranger after the latest American Presidential election. With a heavy and weary feeling in the air, she ventured out of her home the day after the election and met an older Black man who, noticing her sadness, embraced her and caringly advised her, “We’re gonna be alright, we’ve been through worse.” For this native New Yorker, having a moment of cynicism transformed by the empathy and love that she felt in that encounter was transformative and a feeling that she returned to repeatedly as she wrote, chose, and sang her new songs.
“Keep on Pushing” is a centerpiece to this album which was recorded with Grammy winning producer, Jay Newland. Indra felt that “Curtis Mayfield’s amazing ability to convey the joy in resistance and persistence with his song, “Keep on Pushing” was irresistible and critical to the message of this album. Though it was released by The Impressions in 1964, it feels as though it was written for today and the mention of the “great big stone wall ahead” of us was too apt an image to pass up given the American new President’s promises of division. The feeling that I felt when hearing this song and singing it was that the process of pushing towards revolutionary positive change must be done with a loving heart.”
With Carry My Heart, Indra and her band continue in the eclectic spirit of “Heartland” and weave a world of sound that creates a through line between songs by Steely Dan, Swedish electro-pop singer Robyn, Johnny Nash, the Isley Brothers, classical composer Claus Oberman, Duke Ellington, Curtis Mayfield, Gershwin, Bobby Caldwell as well as two original compositions, album opener “Carry My Heart” and “Give It Your Best”.
Together with her band members, husband and saxophonist Benjamin Traerup, bassist Thomas Sejthen, drummer Knut Finsrud, and guitarist Samuel Hallkvist, Indra has created an album of ballads that encourage us to seek connection.